Global surge in political attacks on journalists revealed in World Press Freedom Index

The annual World Press Freedom Index, released by Reporters Without Borders, highlights a concerning trend: political assaults on journalists are escalating globally. These attacks range from detentions and dissemination of false information to stifling independent voices. Despite over half of the world’s population heading to the polls in 2024, governments are failing to safeguard journalism, as per the organization’s observations.

RSF reports that certain political factions exacerbate animosity towards journalists by denigrating, discrediting, and even threatening them. Their index, evaluating 180 nations on journalistic freedom from interference or intimidation, underscores this grim reality.

Norway maintains its top ranking, while Eritrea, labeled an “information desert,” sinks to the bottom. The lower rankings include notorious nations like China, Iran, Afghanistan, and Syria. Conversely, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, and other democratic nations occupy the upper echelons.

In the Middle East, authoritarian regimes are intensifying control over news dissemination, with major jailers of journalists like Israel, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Iran perpetuating the suppression.

The report highlights the alarming death toll among journalists in conflict zones, notably Gaza, and notes the United States’ significant drop in ranking due to heightened attacks on journalists, partly driven by political motives. It criticizes the profit-driven media ownership in the US and condemns Russia’s ongoing hostility towards journalism since its unlawful invasion of Ukraine in 2022, leading to an exodus of over 1,500 journalists.

Moreover, RSF warns against the rising use of generative artificial intelligence and deepfakes, emphasizing their role in spreading misinformation, which poses a serious threat to press freedom and public discourse.